To date, the molecular signalling mechanisms which regulate growth factors-induced MSCs tenogenic differentiation remain largely unknown. Therefore, a study to determine the global gene expression profile of tenogenic differentiation in human bone marrow stromal cells (hMSCs) using growth differentiation factor 5 (GDF5) was conducted. Microarray analyses were conducted on hMSCs cultures supplemented with 100 ng/ml of GDF5 and compared to undifferentiated hMSCs and adult tenocytes. Results of QuantiGene® Plex assay support the use and interpretation of the inferred gene expression profiles and pathways information. From the 27,216 genes assessed, 873 genes (3.21% of the overall human transcriptome) were significantly altered during the tenogenic differentiation process (corrected p<0.05). The genes identified as potentially associated with tenogenic differentiation were ARHGAP29, CCL2, integrin alpha 8 and neurofilament medium polypeptides. These genes, were mainly associated with cytoskeleton reorganization (stress fibers formation) signaling. Pathway analysis demonstrated the potential molecular pathways involved in tenogenic differentiation were: cytoskeleton reorganization related i.e. keratin filament signaling and activin A signaling; cell adhesion related i.e. chemokine and adhesion signaling; and extracellular matrix related i.e. arachidonic acid production signaling. Further investigation using atomic force microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy demonstrated apparent cytoskeleton reorganization in GDF5-induced hMSCs suggesting that cytoskeleton reorganization signaling is an important event involved in tenogenic differentiation. Besides, a reduced nucleostemin expression observed suggested a lower cell proliferation rate in hMSCs undergoing tenogenic differentiation. Understanding and elucidating the tenogenic differentiation signalling pathways are important for future optimization of tenogenic hMSCs for functional tendon cell-based therapy and tissue engineering.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.